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Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

I have quite a few Facebook friends who have had big moments in the last week or so.  It’s made me take a trip down memory lane.

Engagements

A gal (that I didn’t even know was dating someone!) just got engaged last week and posted pictures that were taken right after the engagement.  It reminded me of when Jeff proposed.  Here’s the story if you want to read it.  It was a great surprise to me. We had been dating for almost a year and I thought he’d propose – but a few months later than he actually did.  He didn’t do anything over-the-top or make a huge production out of it (thankfully!), but it was just a nice memory that I have.

I’m excited for this newly engaged couple and the good times that they’ll have in the coming months planning their wedding.

The night we got engaged!

Getting Married

Another facebook friend just got married.  Which, of course, brings up good memories for me of our wedding day and how fun that was.  (It was also kind of a blur — man, so many things that happened just in 1 day!)  I remember the early days of adjusting to living with a new person.  It’s kind of like having a roommate, but kind of not like it.

First Kiss!

Pregnancy

Many, many facebook friends have announced pregnancies lately.  I have one friend in particular who hasn’t announced a pregnancy, but is pinning baby things to pinterest.  Maybe there’s a baby on the way.  Maybe there isn’t.  She might just be getting prepared.  It’s been fun to see her pin lots of advice to first time moms.  Things that 3 years ago, I would’ve DEVOURED.

I remember back to my first pregnancy and how thirsty I was for information.  I just couldn’t get enough.  I wondered about this.  I wondered about that.  I pictured how I would handle certain situations.  I tried to picture what it would be like to physically give birth.  I tried to picture what it would be like to have a newborn.

Some things came to pass.  Some things didn’t.  I don’t regret all the research that I did, even though I didn’t need 1/2 of it!  But I remember the excitement of being pregnant for the first time.  It’s was such an unique time in my life.  So special!

Phinehas Jeffrey!

Stephen David!

 

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Husbands, you just have to realize that sometimes, your wife will cry.  It will happen.  It might have nothing whatsoever to do with you, but she’ll still cry.  Sometimes, you can help fix the reason that made her cry.  Maybe she’s tired and worn out and you can encourage her to go to sleep. Maybe she’s hungry and needs a sandwich.  Maybe she has frustrations and needs your help to let it out. Maybe she is uncomfortable and needs to change her shoes.  But maybe, just maybe, there isn’t anything you can do but to hold her while she cries.  Maybe you just need to cry together.  And that’s okay.  Cause, sometimes, wives cry.

Husbands, Parents, you just have to realize that sometimes, your wife baby will cry.  It will happen.  It might have nothing whatsoever to do with you, but she’ll still cry.  Sometimes, you can help fix the reason that made her cry.  Maybe she’s tired and worn out and you can encourage her to go to sleep. Maybe she’s hungry and needs a sandwich bottle.  Maybe she has frustrations gas and needs your help to let it out. Maybe she is uncomfortable and needs to change her shoes diaper.  But maybe, just maybe, there isn’t anything you can do but to hold her while she cries.  Maybe you just need to cry together.  And that’s okay.  Cause, sometimes, wives babies cry.

(Note: this isn’t my way of saying that wives are babies or infantile.  It’s my way of saying that babies are human and as humans, they communicate. And that’s through crying.  Husbands are human and they cry.  Wives are humans and they cry.  Babies are humans and they cry.  Sometimes, you can fix what made them cry.  Sometimes, all you can do is hold them after you’ve exhausted all other options.  It’s the beauty of humanhood.  We can cry together.)

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As I get older and experience more life, I’ve been convicted that there are questions that you shouldn’t ask. Questions that I’ve probably asked lots and lots of times. Questions that I shouldn’t have asked.*

* Now, when I say YOU shouldn’t ask these, I mean that you shouldn’t ask these in general. There are people in your life that you are close enough to ask these questions to – sisters, daughters, best friends, mentors. But my point is that I have asked these questions of people whom I shouldn’t have. Wisdom has taught me to keep my mouth shut.

“When Are You Going to Start Dating?”

This question is asked, to women, in 2 different scenarios:
1) About dating in general and
2) About dating someone specific

It seems to me that this question is most often asked by women to other women and they mean well – they just don’t realize how personal their question is or how painful the answer might be. Course, some are just nosy, but I’d like to think that most mean well.  I’d really like to think that I meant well.

“When are you going to start dating?”

Maybe the woman really wants to be married. And you think she’d make a great wife. And you wonder why she hasn’t started dating Mr. Right yet. But that’s a really hard question for her to answer.

Should she make a joke about it? “Well, I guess I’m not dating anyone because I’m just so great at being single!”

Should she tell you that she fears it’s because she’s too introverted and doesn’t have an easy time talking with others, including men? “Well, I guess it’s because I just start stammering when there are men around and I always embarrass myself.” Now the conversation starts to sound like a counseling session.

Should she tell you that she fears it’s because she’s not the right type, so men aren’t attracted to her? “Well, I guess it’s because I am too tall/short/skinny/heavy/blonde/brunette, so men aren’t interested.” It’s an invitation to either condemn her (“Oh no! There are plenty of 6’8″ tall women who are married! That’s no excuse!  There has to be another reason you’re single.”) or compliment her (“Oh no! You look great as a brunette!”) and she might not really believe your compliments.

Should she tell you that she’s afraid of relationships due to the scars she’s acquired in her childhood?  “Well, I guess it’s because I don’t relate well to people as I grew up in foster care, living in 20 different houses before I ran away at age 15 and the things I’ve seen and experienced are just horrible.  I’m working on trusting people and don’t really feel ready to be in a relationship.”  That’s awkward and deeply personal.

Should she tell you that she’s had lots of first dates, but hardly any second dates? “Well, I guess no one wants to keep dating me because I have this flatulence problem that seems to be scaring all the guys away.” That’s a little embarrassing for her to have to share!

Should she tell you that she doesn’t know why, but she is really worried about it? “Well, I don’t know why I’m still single and I’m really worried about it. It keeps me awake at night. I cry at every wedding, bridal shower, baby shower, Hallmark commercial and church service.” And then she starts tearing up right then and there. A crying, sobbing woman is uncomfortable for both of you (depending on the situation).

Should she tell you that she doesn’t know why, but isn’t too worried about it? “Well, I don’t know why I’m still single. But that’s okay – God knows what He’s doing. I’ll just trust Him!” Chances are, she’s said that before and the other person replies with something like “You know, God only helps those who help themselves.” or “The Bible does say that we’re supposed to do the right things – are you the right person that men would want to date?” OUCH! to both of those.

“When are you going to start dating XXXXX?”

Then there’s the question that some people ask about a specific person, like “When are you and Bob going to start dating?” or “Have you thought about dating Charlie?” In many ways, that’s worse.

If Bob or Charlie hasn’t asked her out or shown interest, then the fact is that she doesn’t know what Bob is thinking. She doesn’t know what Charlie’s plans are. There might be all kinds of reasons that she and Bob or she and Charlie aren’t dating. I’ve addressed this before here.  It can be kind of hurtful to think about a specific guy and why he hasn’t asked her out yet.

If he has asked her out, but she’s not interested, she probably doesn’t want to tell you why“He did ask me out, but I wasn’t interested.” She’s probably anticipating the next question: “How high are your standards anyway that you won’t date a George Clooney-meets-Billy Graham-meets-Chris Tomlin?” Not fun getting into that debate.

It’s also embarrassing if he asked her out, but it didn’t work out. “We did go out on a date, but he just kept talking about his mother all the time, while holding onto a blue blankie and I just didn’t think he was ready to be in a relationship.” She doesn’t want to rat him out!

So, as hard as it is sometimes, I have to hold my tongue and not ask “When Are You Going to Start Dating?”

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Lately, I’ve been a better mom.  Better wife too, truth be told.  And a better housecleaner.  What miraculous change of heart did I have?  What bad habit did I stop doing?

Nothing major.  We just moved my laptop from upstairs to downstairs, making it less reachable-just-because-gonna-go-kill-a-few-minutes.  I wasn’t on it hours upon hours a day, but a few moments here, a few moments there, etc.  Since Phinehas and I don’t spend much time downstairs during the day, we’re usually upstairs.  I had just gotten into the habit of checking facebook real quick.  Or pinterest to get the recipe.  Or email to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

Now that it’s more of a hassle to get to my computer, I’m not on it as much.  When I have a few free minutes, I read with Phinehas.  Or clean something!  Or organize something.  I’m just more productive.

I remind myself of this when I’m tempted to get a smartphone.  I can only imagine how much more distracted I would be then.  No, I think my dumb/no internet/no text messaging/pretty cheap phone works just fine.

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My love story

I have a great love story.  Really, I do.  You know why?  Cause it’s mine.  So, to me, it’s great.  To other people, they might not think it’s so great. Cause it’s kind of plain jane.  There weren’t any great “I’m breaking up with you.  Wait, no I’m not.  Well, yes I am.  Okay, I’m not.” drama-filled moments.  There hasn’t been any “Let’s move to Costa Rica and have an adventure!” moments either.  To some, it isn’t great because we dated for 11 whole months and were engaged for 9 whole months.  Maybe they think couples should date for a much shorter amount of time.  Others would say longer.

Some would say that it isn’t great because we didn’t get married til our 30s.  Great love stories happen to those in college.  Or just out of college.  Or in high school even.  And yet others would say that truly great love stories happen to the 80-year-old woman who finally marries her high school sweetheart after being seperated for 60+ years. (Okay, I concede, that is a great story!)  But you know what?  I’m pretty fond of my love story.

My sister and I were doing a Bible study (last year!) and one of the questions was along the lines of “List a miracle that you have seen God do in your life.”  My answer: My marriage.  Not in a “It was a really bad marriage, but God helped us turn it around” kind of way or even “I have the best marriage in the world!” kind of way either.  But in a “I think it’s a miracle that I am actually married!” kind of way.

I was talking with a friend the other day who was recounting a date that she recently had been on.  It was a first date and in her mind, the guy did every.single.thing wrong.

  • He texted other people during dinner.
  • He didn’t talk much to her dad when he came to pick her up.
  • He talked on the phone with his mom when he was driving her home.
  • He didn’t open her car door.
  • The meal wasn’t enough food, but he didn’t address the issue by ordering more.

But she still felt like she should go on a second date with him.  The reason why is the weird part to me.  She wasn’t interested in him, but her reason for going on a second date is that she wants to get married.  To get married, you need to be around marry-able men.  So she felt that she had to continue on with the relationship, not because she was interested or because she was willing to give a second chance, but because no dates = no marriage.

To be fair to the gentleman, she also admitted:

  • She didn’t tell him that he was picking her up at her parent’s house.  He knows that she lives with a female roommate and that’s the address he thought he was going to. When her dad answered the door, ir really threw him off.
  • She didn’t ask him to open her car door.  She just stood outside her side of the car until he got the hint, got out of the car and then opened her door.

At any rate, it wasn’t a good first date.  I’m guessing neither one of them left thinking “Wow, that went well!”  (To be honest, I do think there’s a time and a place to give a relationship a second chance (or even a long first chance), but I also don’t think you have to go on a second date when you don’t really like the guy and he doesn’t really appear to be that into you either.)

She wished that she could have a simple love story like I did.  What she doesn’t know is that while my love story is pretty simple, it still had awkwardness.  It still had weird moments and uncomfortable conversations.  It’s a relationship – that happens. 

I’ve written far more today than I’ve meant to — I really just meant to say: Relationships have wacky moments.  All of them do.  (Well, assuming you’re closer than near strangers to each other.)  Over the next while (days?  weeks?  months?), I’ll share some of my love story and show you the wackiness.  Simply because knowing what one other couple went through can help you with your story.  Not because your story will look like mine, but because you should know that we’re normal.  I don’t have them all written or anything, so don’t expect them all this week — this will be an “As I get time” kind of thing.

But I’m excited to start this endeavor!

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Book: What Did You Expect?

I just finished a book by Paul David Tripp not too long ago – “What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage”. An excellent book! It’s a book on marriage (clearly) not full of practical tips, but on the philosophy of marriage and why it can be so difficult. It’s on why what you (when you’re just dating) think marriage will be like isn’t what marriage is really like.

From the book:

It happens to everyone. It is the unavoidable reality of marriage. Somehow, someway, every marriage becomes a struggle. Life after the honeymoon is radically different from the honeymoon that preceded it. The person you loved to play with, you are now living and working with. The person who was your escape from responsibility has become your most significant responsibility. Spending time together is radically different than living together. Reasons for attraction now becomes sources of irritation.

Somewhere along the way you realize that you, too, are a sinner, married to a sinner, and you are together living in a broken world. Sometimes this reality just makes mundane little moments more difficult than they should be, and sometimes it means facing devastating things you thought you would never face. But it happens to all.

Everyone’s marriage becomes something they didn’t intend it to be. You are required to deal with things you didn’t plan to face. In every marriage sin complicates what would otherwise be simple. In every marriage the brokenness of the world makes things more complicated and difficult. In every marriage either giddy romance wanes and is replaced with a sturdier and more mature love, or the selfishness of sin reduces the marriage to a state of relational detente.

This is kind of where my marriage is. We’re not in the giddy “Oh yay! Jeff is home from work!” stage of life. We’re also not in a facing cancer/unemployment/betrayal stage of life either. (Pray that that stage never comes, but it might.)

But we’re transitioning into that “sturdier and more mature love” that Mr. Tripp writes about.  He writes about how to transition into that kind of love.

How it’s important to prove your trustworthiness daily…

How to deal with differences…

How to protect your marriage.

Most importantly, how to bring grace into your marriage.

It’s a great thing – giddy feelings do fade and that’s okay.  They were fun while they’re there and so new.  You want them to be replaced by stronger, sturdier stuff.

It’s a great book and I’d recommend it for anyone – single or married and no matter how long you’ve been married.

In other news, Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Feeling Alone

(This post was inspired by a Boundless.org blogpost, so if you read that and read my blog, this might seem familiar.)

Several months ago now, I told Jeff that I was feeling alone – even in our marriage.  After talking to him about it and pondering it, I think I figured out why.  It came down to the fact that I made his being silent as something hurtful to me.  I was feeling that he wasn’t really supporting me on some things that I wanted. I was hurt because:

(1) He didn’t help me build the basement shelves that I was building. (That totally fell down the moment I tried to move them, causing me to cry in frustration. They just completely collapsed on top of themselves.  Boom! It’s like I had made them out of a deck of cards or something equally fragile.)

(2) He didn’t help me re-hang the bathroom cabinet doors after I stained them. I told him that I needed help cause I couldn’t get the screws in all the way.

(3) He didn’t help me put together a bookcase that I wanted for our son’s room. I had started it, but (again) couldn’t get the stupid screw into the bookcase.

I was frustrated because I was the one that had figured out the measurements to the shelves.  I was the one who ran to Home Depot 4 times (4!!!) to get lumber, more lumber, plywood, nails to build the basement shelves.  (Can’t I learn to make a list before going there?!?)  I was the one who had to move Phinehas’s carseat from one side of the backseat so that I could put part of the back seat down to get the plywood in the car and then couldn’t put it back correctly.  I was the one who spent a few hours pounding nails into the lumber to make a ‘thing’ that sort of resembled shelves. You know, before I moved it and it collapsed.

I was also frustrated that I was the one that had taken the drawers and the doors off the bathroom fixtures.  I was the one that sanded them down.  I was the one who found the stain locally.  I was the one who taped off the room.  I was the one who did three coats of stain, waited five days and did two coats of polyurethane. I was the one who re-hung the doors.

I was frustrated again when I tried to put together bookshelves for Phinehas’s room.  It was one of those “assemble it yourself” things you can buy from Target.  I was the one who went to Target and bought it, lugging it into the car, lugging it into the house.  I was the one who took the pieces out and organized them onto the living room floor.

I was the one!  (Can you hear how self-focused I was?)

Why couldn’t he help me?  Was it too much to ask?  After I stopped and thought about it, several things hit me:

  • None of these projects were my husband’s idea.  Not a single one.  He blessed them, to be sure, but it wasn’t a big dream of his.
  • I didn’t ask for help on the basement shelves at all.  In fact,  I was lugging lumber and making Home Depot trips while he was at work and Bible Study.  The man couldn’t help me do what he didn’t know I was doing.
  • I didn’t communicate when I needed help.  I just said I needed help in general, without saying “Can you help me with this tonight?  Or this weekend?”  

In one case (the shelves), he didn’t have a chance to help me.  In the other cases, I didn’t ask him when he could help me.  So I got silence (or so I thought).  And instead of taking his silence as a reason to be more specific and direct with him, I took his silence as hurtful and thus, felt alone.

He was willing to help me with the bathroom cabinet doors and the bookcase. He was willing to help me build the basement shelves.  I just had to ask and be clear about it.

If I just would have asked my husband for 1) help and 2) a timeline of when he could help, I wouldn’t have gotten hurt feelings and I wouldn’t have (likely) felt lonely. If only I wouldn’t have assumed his silence meant something…

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Disrespectful good cook

I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Tony Evans on marriage a little while back.  (Available here, it was part of his Winning Back Your Mate series – good stuff!)  The quote that got stuck in my head and gave me plenty of food for thought was:

Many men would rather go out to eat with somebody who is encouraging him than stay at home and eat from a good cook who has no respect for him.

I think it’s true for most people, maybe especially husbands.  Imagine that you had to eat lunch with a certain co-worker everyday.  Someone that you didn’t really like.  Someone who really just got on your nerves.  Someone who knows how to push all the wrong buttons.  It’s just a hardship to spend that lunch hour with them.

Some people live like that.  Their spouses don’t really respect them and know how to push all the wrong buttons, but golly gee, since they’re married, they have to go home to them. They have to eat with them.  They have to be there with them.  They have to endure that.  What kind of life is that?  No fun!

Dr. Evans exhorted wives to be their husband’s chief fan, support system and encourager.  They can get a maid to do the cleaning.  They can get a chef to do the cooking.  They can get a nanny to do the child raising.  But they can’t hire a number one fan.  They can’t hire someone to encourage them.

So I took this quote to heart in two ways:

  • As important as the ‘tasks’ of the house are, they are just tasks.  Not people.
  • One of the most important things that I do is be a good wife to Jeff.  Not a good wife to Bob.  Not a good wife to Billy.  Not a good wife to Larry.  Not a good wife as defined by “cooking, cleaning and procreating”.  But a good wife as defined by “Cheering him on.  Encouraging him.  Supporting him. Not tearing him down.  Not undermining him.”  No one else but me gets to do that!

Anyway, it was a good reminder of what’s really important.  My relationships are more important than my tasks!

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Shortened Hair

So, I lost the Toilet Paper contest, which means I lost my long hair.  And people, let me tell you, it’s s-h-o-r-t.  Not as short as it could be, but shorter than I pictured.

My sister put my hair back in a ponytail, I agreed to the amount to be cut off and she chopped it off.  The week after, I went to a hairstylist and she cut even more off (in an effort to even it out and style it).  I definitely lost more than the 6 inches I had originally agreed to.  It was my decision though.

I like it.  

I’m still learning how to style it.  (Sometimes I feel like a 13-year-old girl just starting to take an interest in her appearance and playing around with different looks.)

It’s so much easier to work with.  What used to take me 20 minutes now takes 5 minutes.

Phinehas doesn’t pull it.  It’s much easier to keep out of his reach!

But I’m growing it back out.  Slowly, but surely.  Day by day.  Why?  My husband doesn’t care for it.  And his preferences is more important than a little convenience for me.

I knew going into this whole process that Jeff prefers me with long hair.  I’ve even written about it.  I also had his blessing to do the competition and to lose my long hair.  We’re both totally fine with the decision.  Here’s the reality: you can be fine with the decision and still not like the result.  You can be convinced that you did the right thing.  You can be sure that you did a good thing.  But you can still not like the effects.

And that’s where we’re at.  My growing my hair back out isn’t a “submission” thing – it’s a “wanting to please my husband when I can” thing.  It’s a “he doesn’t grow a beard because he knows my preferences, so I can be considerate of him too” thing.  That’s a big part of marriage – pleasing your spouse when it’s possible to do so.

Maybe by this time next year, my locks will be lots longer!

Why is it just so adorable when you put ears on kid’s hats?

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Keeping Marriage Primary

I theoretically love John Rosemond’s parenting philosophies. I say theoretically because I have a 6-month-old. Meaning that I’ve never had to put many of them into practice. I do think my mom thinks a lot like he does, so while I’ve never parented a child that way, I think I’ve been parented with a philosophy similar to his.

Recently, I’ve checked out one of his books (The New Parent Power) and he starts off pretty early in the book with the foundational concept that the marriage should be the primary and most important relationship in the family, not the one between parents and children. The quote:

Somewhere, back down the line, they misplaced the fact that the marriage is the most important commitment in their lives. Until they rediscover it, they will continue to become increasingly isolated in roles that do not complement one another and increasingly distant in terms of communication and intimacy.

In the last fifty years or so, we’ve done such a good job of training wives to be mothers and husbands to be breadwinners that by the time their children leave home, they’ve forgotten how to be partners.

By no means am I ignoring realities. Children must be attended to and money must be made. I’m simply saying that wives can and should remain wives first and foremost, even after they become mothers. Likewise, husbands can and should remain husbands first and foremost, regardless of the demands of their careers. Mother, father, breadwinner – these are all secondary roles. Husband and wife are the primary adult roles in the family. If all this is somewhat difficult to accept, it’s only because the cultural program to which I referred earlier is so demanding and insistent, so powerful and persuasive, that we succumb to it without thinking through the consequences.  (emphasis mine)

I think it is really easy for the role of mom to trump the role of wife. I can see how the role of breadwinner can trump the role of husband. Our culture does gear us that way. There is money that is needed. And kids do need time and attention and training. There are other things too. Houses, laundry, food, church, sports, all kinds of things. I just like the way that he puts it – we don’t need to succumb to the cultural program if we give it some thought.

No magic answers, just something to chew on.

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